We’re Humans Not Users: Living in A Digital World

By Becky Johnson

We’ve all done it: slipped into jargon-speak to someone not in our industry and watched their eyes glaze over. Perhaps even using some jargon is detrimental to our ability to do our jobs, to connect to other humans, or to approach our jobs with proper empathy. Pete Trainor says it succinctly, “Before we were users, we were humans.” Now in a device and technology-heavy world, he points out on his slide deck that we need to empower people by approaching technology in a human-focused way with more consideration of psychology + behavior. We need to remember the people we are “dishing our content out to” are human beings. All the time we plan user or customer journeys and the data we collect to plot those journeys doesn’t often take into account the personal journey that person may be on. We get caught up in what we want the big data user outcome to be, not the fact we are trying to get an outcome out of another human.

Pete calls “B.S.” on the thought that we can “create homogenous experiences for people.” AI comes into Pete’s theory, because he believes AI can do things that are more 1:1, instead of 1:many. Looking for an angle to make consumer click isn’t going to feed any of their human conditions. Behavioral/emotional analytics, telematics, and cognitive biometrics that your devices are already collecting about people will better create the 1:1 customized experience. For AI to be successful, it needs to have a “minimum viable personality” which essentially means it has to be really good at conversation. This is where the advertising industry comes in because who’s better at creating conversation than ad people?

“We’ve created this problem in our industry where we pay people for the last click before they go on to do something and everything else we forget about.” – Jon Mew of Internet Advertising Bureau UK on how maybe the world would be better if we tracked how people felt about things instead of just click-thru rates. Jon uses examples such as the recent Dove and Listerine campaigns that were both positive, human campaigns, but also worked as great advertising campaigns as well.

Digital and AI can be used for good, and treating our fellow humans as we would like to be treated will only make for better advertising.

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